The fine flat lands of Illinois are filled with farmland more often edged with trees in the distance than the eternal blue skies. The obvious crops here are corn, but many fields are brown and untilled, awaiting the planting of the next crop.
Before long, we reach real hills, which rise as a barrier, neatly dividing the Illinois River from the Mississippi river. Here the limestone colored grey from exposure peek out, from cuts through the hills to make this long flat road.
Before we know it, we are crossing the Mississippi atop the second Mark Twain Bridge that lies just to the north of Hannibal. The first turn is into historic downtown Hannibal, where the natives adhere to the same lack of direction as their Illinois neighbors, but with far less efficiency. So obvious is the spot where the street is blocked off to create a pedestrian mall next to an eatery whose sole claim to fame is being there, being named for Twain, and being expensive, that we miss the point several times, threading our way through narrow back alleys and being blocked by a street being demolished to improve this depressed area. Indeed, Hannibal is down on its luck, appearing poor and impoverished as anyplace we have seen.